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How Do Vaccines Work?

todayMay 7, 2021

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By Paige Greene
Web Content Assistant Manager

With the COVID-19 vaccine available in Hays county, you may find yourself wondering how vaccines really work.

When bacteria or viruses enter your body, they invade, attack and multiply. This is what causes you to get sick. 

For example when you get sick with COVID-19, your body creates proteins called “antibodies” to fight that disease. These antibodies stick to specific proteins, like those found on viruses. Your immune system finds these specific proteins harmful, then sends these antibodies to attack it.

This is very similar to how immune systems react when someone has a specific food allergy. The immune system finds the specific food or food substance to be harmful and sends antibodies to attack the allergen. 

Once a person gets infected with COVID-19 and recovers from the virus, their body has these antibodies so they can fight the virus in the future. These antibodies may provide protection from the virus, but it is unsure how well or long the protection lasts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of reinfection have been reported, but are rare.

So how do antibodies relate to a vaccine?

Vaccines train our bodies to fight the disease just like actually getting exposed, but it does so without making us sick. 

Vaccines provide this by imitating the infection, according to the CDC. They use viruses or bacteria that have been weakened or altered to create this imitation. There are many ways to weaken or alter a virus, and it does so without causing serious disease. 

You may ask, ‘so why do I get sick after getting a vaccine?’

Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects, which are most commonly mild. These are just the side effects of your body giving protection against a sometimes serious and deadly disease. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, side effects are just normal signs that the vaccine is working and your body is building protection. 

So can you still get COVID-19 after getting the Vaccine?

According to The Weather Channel and CDC it is possible to still get infected, but again it is rare. 

A small percentage of fully vaccinated people will still contract COVID-19, like you can with any other vaccine. Some people may even be fully vaccinated but catch an asymptomatic infection in which the carrier shows no symptoms but still has the disease. 

Vaccines are widely available across the United States and anyone above 16 years of age is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

For more information about the Covid-19 vaccine, you can visit the CDC or Texas State University Student Health Center

Featured image by Paige Greene via Canva.

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